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Slot paybacks

21 July 2019

For decades, it’s been common knowledge among slot players that higher-denomination games bring higher payback percentages.

Slotmakers and casinos rely on players knowing that because when players bet more, it means more profit for the house. Casinos may not keep as much on a percentage basis on the higher-denomination games, but the dollars and cents are bigger.

Problem is, it’s not always obvious on the outside that one game pays more than another.

One way to go about that has been tried by International Game Technology on Fortune Link progressive games, with Feline Fortune and Egyptian Fortune themes.

Machines are multidenominational – you touch the screen to choose your coin denomination. And it says right on the welcome screen that if you choose 1-cent or 2-cent versions, it takes six Fortune Link symbols to trigger the feature, but you can trigger it with five symbols if you’re betting 5 cents or 10 cents per line. The big bettors on $1 or $2 games can get the feature with just four symbols.

In the feature, the Fortune Link symbols lock in place and you get three respins to try to add more to the collection. If a respin adds on or more of the symbols, the respin meter resets to three – you can go on respinning until you either fill the screen with Fortune Links or go three respins in a row without adding any.

At the end, you get a bonus for every Fortune Link symbol on the screen.

During bonus rounds on video slots – and on those newer reel slots that have bonuses – you have the opportunity to win credits without risking extra money. Needing fewer symbols to trigger a bonus means higher-denomination players have more bonus play and less time when they are risking money.

If all else is equal, the difference in bonus triggers would mean higher payback percentages at higher coin denominations. We don’t know that all else is equal, but revenue reports in various states consistently show higher paybacks at higher denominations.

  • COST VS. BENEFIT: Should you bet more to take advantage of higher payback percentages? That’s between you, your goals and your bankroll.

Imagine you have a choice between a penny slot that pays 87% and a 5-cent slot that returns 90%. (Real world returns could be higher or lower on either, depending on casino and jurisdiction. There are meant as examples of typical paybacks.)

Imagine also that each has 30 paylines, and you bet one coin per line for 1,000 spins. That would mean you bet 30,000 pennies, or $300 on one slot, and 30,000 nickels, or $1,500, on the other.

At 87% return, your average loss on the 1-cent slot would be $39. At 90% return, your average loss on the nickel slot would be $150.

You get a higher payback percentage on the higher-denomination game, but also lose more money because you put a lot more at risk.

That’s not to say no one should ever play at higher denominations. If you have sufficient funds in your entertainment budget and the potential for bigger wins in the good times is what you’re after, then the step up gives you a better shot.

But for players on a limited budget, a higher payback percentage shouldn’t be seen as an overriding goal. Play for fun, bet what you can afford, enjoy the wins when they come but understand that losses happen. If you’re betting more money than you can afford to lose, the risks outweigh the rewards.


Look for John Grochowski on Facebook (http://tinyurl.com/7lzdt44) and Twitter (@GrochowskiJ).
Recent Articles
Best of John Grochowski
John Grochowski
John Grochowski is the best-selling author of The Craps Answer Book, The Slot Machine Answer Book and The Video Poker Answer Book. His weekly column is syndicated to newspapers and Web sites, and he contributes to many of the major magazines and newspapers in the gaming field, including Midwest Gaming and Travel, Slot Manager, Casino Journal, Strictly Slots and Casino Player.

Listen to John Grochowski's "Casino Answer Man" tips Tuesday through Friday at 5:18 p.m. on WLS-AM (890) in Chicago. Look for John Grochowski on Facebook and Twitter @GrochowskiJ.

John Grochowski Websites:

www.casinoanswerman.com

Books by John Grochowski:

The Craps Answer Book

> More Books By John Grochowski

John Grochowski
John Grochowski is the best-selling author of The Craps Answer Book, The Slot Machine Answer Book and The Video Poker Answer Book. His weekly column is syndicated to newspapers and Web sites, and he contributes to many of the major magazines and newspapers in the gaming field, including Midwest Gaming and Travel, Slot Manager, Casino Journal, Strictly Slots and Casino Player.

Listen to John Grochowski's "Casino Answer Man" tips Tuesday through Friday at 5:18 p.m. on WLS-AM (890) in Chicago. Look for John Grochowski on Facebook and Twitter @GrochowskiJ.

John Grochowski Websites:

www.casinoanswerman.com

Books by John Grochowski:

> More Books By John Grochowski